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By Mehrose Ahmad and Sumaita Hasan, Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief
As of today, the Class of 2017 has not had any mid-year reports sent to colleges in the aftermath of a dispute between three assistant principals and Interim Acting Principal Rosemarie Jahoda over how to handle an issue with a grade error on the transcripts from two senior classes. A meeting between the assistant principals and Ms. Jahoda over how to handle the issue today led to one AP being ejected by Ms. Jahoda from the room and another told “you should be scared” over the problem.
When report cards were released last week, a student noticed an issue with incorrect averages for those who have Social Studies teacher Jamie Baranoff. The error impacted three classes of juniors and two classes of seniors. With a large number of these seniors having incorrect transcripts, the guidance department did not want to send out mid-year reports until all grades were accurate. We spoke to two administrators who maintain that the grades could have been changed in the Department of Education Student Transcript and Academic Recording System (STARS) system on Friday without there needing to be individual grade changes made using a paperwork system that the DOE demands.
The two assistant principals allege that Ms. Jahoda was unavailable throughout Friday to approve the changes, and when found, she decided to call the DOE for advice and was told the system was no longer available for changes, which the Assistant Principals dispute.
An AP explained that “There was a problem of accessibility. Ms. Jahoda was not available… [and] the process itself is very inefficient and a lot of it is beyond our control. The lack of access to Ms. Jahoda earlier was part of [the delay], but…now, there are layers of DOE bureaucracy that we can’t control.”
With the system unavailable, the changes now need to be made by filing individual grade change requests for each student.
The process for filing this paperwork was the subject of a meeting between the principal and three of her subordinates today. The APs thought first that the forms could be filed with two sheets, but Ms. Jahoda maintained that the DOE required a full printout of the entire gradebook and a narrative explaining the error, which one AP felt would unnecessarily delay the process of getting the changes made.
In the meeting, Ms. Jahoda ultimately asked one AP to leave the room after accusing the AP of raising their voice. Ms. Jahoda told another AP, who expressed fear that the delay in making a decision on the grade change forms was endangering college applications for seniors, that “you should be scared because it [sending the grades] is your responsibility.”
We can confirm that this exchange occurred.
The grade changes were not sent to the DOE until later in the afternoon today, and it is unknown how long before these changes will be made and correct transcripts can be issued.
According to Guidance Counselor Jeremy Wang, transcripts should be “sent out [to colleges] as soon as the students receive their fall semester report card” and that “the grades should be changed as soon as physically possible.”
There are no firm deadlines for when colleges should receive these reports. The Common Application website states, “Counselors should submit Mid Year Reports as soon as first semester/trimester grades are available.”
The transcripts would have been sent out last week had they been accurate.
The initial issue stems from errors in Ms. Baranoff’s grades. Ms. Baranoff used the Projected Final Average (PFA) rather than the Marking Period Average (MPA) from eSchoolData when reporting her final grades, leading to students having the wrong average on their transcript. Ms. Baranoff explained the issue, stating, “There was some kind of a problem with my gradebook where I had two different averages. The one that I ended up putting on the report cards was not the correct cumulative average.” Ms. Baranoff said that the issue was brought to her attention by a student who questioned her grade and when she reviewed the math, she realized she put in the wrong calculation.
In response to the matter, United Federation of Teacher Chapter Leader Franco Scardino stated, “Ms. Jahoda has the responsibility to ensure that student records are accurate and that everyone is informed of procedures. Given that so many new policies and procedures have been put in place without written explanation or guidance, it does not surprise me that we find ourselves as a school community once again scrambling to figure things out on our own without clear instruction.”
On Ms. Jahoda’s statement that an AP “should be scared,” Mr. Scardino said, “If her threatening allegations are true, then once again, Ms. Jahoda will have confirmed how unfit she is to lead Townsend Harris High School.”
Ms. Jahoda was unavailable for comment.
Update: Numerous students have commented explaining that some colleges do in fact have deadlines for mid-year reports. Senior Samantha Jaloza said she has five schools for which the mid-year report deadlines are next week.